Contributor

Students Decide on Virtual Viking

Jennie Sherwood

Checking in with students who made the decision to go fully virtual

With one month completed of the school year, students and staff are getting in the swing of the “new norm.” Students are adjusting to their cohort, teachers adjusting to new classroom functions, but 75 students still haven’t walked through the ELHS doors since March 12. Those who decided to start the school year off as Virtual Vikings have been adjusting to the at-home version of ELHS, taking all the same classes they normally would’ve taken through computer or phone screens. Juniors Ritisha Ande and Richard Chen are two students who made the decision to go fully virtual. “There was an inherent risk to going back that I didn’t feel comfortable taking yet,” Chen said. “Seeing how the COVID-19 situation had gotten significantly worse over the summer really put me off from coming back in person.” Virtual Viking students follow the same model as Cohort A students, attending classes on Monday and Tuesday with the only difference of Zooming in instead of being at school. “They’re treated the same as the Cohort A students and have all the same assignments and deadlines as them,” said Science teacher Lori Singer. “[When Zooming in,] I have them on a laptop in the front of the class hooked up to the smartboard, and I’m always checking in with them periodically with a wave making sure they’re okay. I think having Virtual Viking as an option is essential with families in situations that are beyond their control, making it unsafe for those students to be here.” Though these students feel safe learning from home, losing the in-person aspect still has some effect on this new experience. “I definitely underestimated the importance of how social life in school contributes to the overall experience. Now that I’m at home, not having seen very many classmates in person for a while feels pretty weird,” said Chen. “Motivation can be kind of difficult when you’re not in person, but I’m taking four APs this year and I don’t want to short-change myself by not putting in the effort.” Though all of ELHS is experiencing a new version of the school year with the hybrid model in general, Virtual Viking still ended up being a satisfying option for those who decided to take it amidst the fine tunings of how it would work. “It’s been running smoothly so far and I’m happy about it. I’m glad they’re letting Virtual Viking kids Zoom in now instead of using Edgenuity, so we can actually be in class with East Lyme teachers,” Ande said. “I feel like I’m still going to school when I’m Zooming in. It feels to me like a normal school day, but in a safer way.”

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